CSR Policies and Sustainability: Save Our Seas at Work!
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming more important to businesses than ever before. It contributes to employee engagement, retention levels, the decisions customers make about where to shop – and, it can help save the planet. There’s a growing trend for CSR programmes to focus on or include environmental issues and sustainability, which is a very promising move by businesses in the UK.
It’s not just for the big spenders with massive CSR budgets, either. All companies can play their part in instigating environmental change, and bring about more positivity towards the planet in their everyday business activities. At GreenSeas Trust, we’re all about behavioural change and emphasise the importance of engagement – it’s at the very core of everything we do. We recognise that people who are engaged in a cause will be more involved and proactive, contributing to wider change and helping to build momentum. And people actively want to be involved in the greater good: 75% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they have the opportunity to make a positive impact. CSR and sustainability programmes unite employees behind a positive cause and give them a sense of purpose.
How to begin tackling environmental issues in the workplace
If your workplace currently has very little in the way of a CSR policy or sustainability initiatives, it can be difficult to get things off the ground. Don’t be intimidated though – there are many steps you can take to begin making small changes, which can create a snowball effect and gain momentum. Remember, every positive initiative has to begin somewhere.
Here are some of the ways you could begin tackling sustainability in your workplace:
- Come up with positive initiatives, and consider ways you can frame this communication positively:
- Reduce dishwasher use. Many larger companies use dishwashers several times a day and it’s something that people don’t even think about. Why not encourage people to reuse mugs, giving them a rinse instead of getting a new cup each time
- Remove under-desk bins. This means that people will have to dispose of rubbish in communal bins, making them much more likely to recycle. However, it can be difficult to simply take something away that is a convenience. Explain why it’s a positive step, and see if you can use some stats to support your actions – a simple infographic or a short email could explain how much rubbish is disposed of incorrectly, and how it ends up in landfill. Luckily for you, we wrote a blog about it – take a look.
- Recycle correctly. Most companies have recycling bins, but many aren’t using them correctly and entire loads can end up being contaminated. All local councils should provide recycling guides – make sure these are available in waste disposal areas for all colleagues to see clearly, or even make your own bold, stand-out guides that people can’t miss. You can also raise awareness in meetings and public forums, giving people the chance to ask questions and ensuring everyone knows how to recycle correctly.
- Reduce electricity usage. Turn off appliances when they’re not being used, take the stairs instead of the lift, and reduce printing. Small steps all add up. Take action, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
- Provide reusable bags. People go out at lunchtimes to buy food or go shopping, and they’ll often forget to take a bag. Why not have reusable bags available by the doors for people to take with them? If your company has the budget, this could even be an opportunity to provide branded bags and could be treated as a brand awareness exercise, as well as a sustainability one.
- Talk! The more people who are on board with sustainability, the more difference you can make. This can be as simple as mentioning it to your friends over lunch, right through to organising meetings to promote sustainability and getting more people on board. You can create momentum over time.
- Propose a sustainability programme. Programmes like this are gaining more traction in business, with a reported 62% of executives saying a sustainability strategy is important in order to be competitive. This is promising news – your company could be the next one to take action if you put forward your ideas.
CSR policies and sustainability – how to get involved
If you have an existing CSR or environmental policy and want to get the most out of it, there are many ways you can make small changes that will contribute towards happier marine life, cleaner oceans and a healthier planet. Here are some points to consider:
- First and foremost, get involved. It doesn’t matter what your role is within the company, you can have a positive impact on sustainability. Speak to the people who run the CSR or sustainability programme – if you don’t know who they are, talk to your manager and make sure the right people know that you’re keen to be a part of their initiatives.
- Engage, don’t dictate. It can be easy to lecture colleagues on what they should be doing with their recycling, how they should be disposing of waste and where they should be buying their lunch, but the trouble with this approach is that people will feel alienated. Sustainability is something that everyone should feel a part of, and when they feel like they’ve made a meaningful contribution, it’s more likely they’ll keep replicating positive behaviour. Give people the chance to get involved and make positive suggestions, providing encouragement, not imposing restrictions.
- Offer training and raise awareness. We’ve already established that people don’t like being told what to do! Why not suggest training initiatives or wider discussions and engage people this way? Knowledge is power, so teaching your colleagues about sustainable practices and what they can do will give them the ability to make their own decisions. You could organise meetings, provide training videos, write a blog, encourage managers to have discussions with their team, or anything else you think would resonate in your place of work. This leads people towards positive change without simply telling them what to do.
- Most CSR policies allow employees to take part in volunteering initiatives as part of their work. Find out what you are entitled to and make the most of your volunteering time. If you fancy helping out an entirely volunteer-led organisation (and saving the seas while you’re at it), we’re always looking for people who can help us!
Got a CSR budget? You can save our seas!
Many companies have CSR budgets to spend on causes that help them operate more responsibly. If your company has a budget, or they’re thinking about allocating one in the next financial year, please put our name forward! Companies can contribute towards the costs of producing our bins and help combat ocean plastics once and for all. If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us.
You can also donate as an individual. Any contribution is gratefully received and will help us put more bins on more coastlines.